EMU Alumni Profile: Chief William Schultz

Passion that Grew from Occupation

Written By: Mia Milton

A professional headshot of Chief William Schultz.
Chief William Schultz
A professional headshot of Chief William Schultz.

Chief William Schultz

Service is the rent we pay for the  space we occupy in this world. No one knows this better than EMU alumnus and Fort Lauderdale Police Chief William Schultz, who was recently promoted to the position after 22 years on the force. His passion for service has led to many successful partnerships and initiatives with a long-lasting impact on Fort Lauderdale’s surrounding community. 

Rising through the ranks of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department (FLPD), Chief Schultz was promoted six times throughout his career and attributes his preparedness to EMU, where he received both his bachelor's degree in 1997 in criminology and masters in 1999 in interdisciplinary technology. Growing up in North Adams, Michigan, Chief Schultz's introduction to law enforcement surfaced through his admiration of a childhood friend’s father, who had a genuine connection with the community. Little did he know how much of an imprint this would have on his future work. 

With the guidance of a high school counselor, Schultz decided to pursue criminal justice because of his interest in the legal aspects of the field, which included the areas of government, psychology and sociology. After graduating from high school, a tour of EMU sealed his fate with what would be an opportunity of a lifetime. “I fell in love with it, and had mutual friends from my high school at EMU. I considered other schools, but the campus tour sold it for me. As soon as I got to Eastern, I met with another counselor who solidified what my high school counselor said, particularly regarding my interests in criminal justice and public service. I loved what EMU had for me,” said Chief William Schultz.

During his time at EMU, he fondly remembers summer internship opportunities for hands-on learning, such as ride-alongs with the Michigan State Police and Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department. Chief Schultz explains, “They did a fantastic job of getting instructors who were either currently in the field or retired. You received the most impactful instruction from individuals who could take textbook examples and translate them into real life scenarios then lead conversations that would require critical thinking. Each time we were on the road, we learned something new.” These experiences coupled with the Police Staff and Command School classes led by sheriffs or local municipal police leaders intertwined the academic rigor with the outside field. He continues, “As soon as I graduated with both of those degrees, I had a hand above the rest. I acquired so much knowledge from my time at EMU, and cited so many examples in my interviews with FLPD. I almost received a perfect score from the board. If you are looking for a career in service or public safety, hands down, I could not recommend EMU more than what they were able to do for me.”

With a passion for community, the chief embarked on a mission to create community engagement initiatives with FLPD. These initiatives include community support units for all three policing districts where the officers’ full time duties are to engage with the community through a number of strategic efforts. “We work with community groups at various levels–homeowners and business owners associations or grass roots neighborhood level organizations,” says Chief Schultz. 

Some of these initiatives include Unity in the Community, which is a group of religious leaders and clergy from churches and places of worship to help solve challenges in the community. “These pastors have been a driving force,” says Chief Schultz. “They have their ears to the ground and they know what's going on and who the players are and they help us.” In addition, the Chief’s Advisory Council is made up of leaders in the surrounding Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods from various groups that have been equally instrumental in developing partnerships with and providing access to individuals that they normally would not have the opportunity to do so. He also expressed the department’s desire to extend the initiatives to include a Youth Advisory Council involving pre-teens and teenagers in partnership with the Fort Lauderdale Public Schools system.

With a number of responsibilities under his leadership like formalizing the Special Event and Emergency Management Program to help safely plan for the myriad of events happening in the area, it is his passion for community that helps fuel his creative process. Schultz explains, “Sometimes the aspects that motivate you the most such as community engagement provide a deep understanding into the experiences and living conditions of residents. This allows us to create efforts or connect to existing ones to address and mitigate issues ultimately bringing residents an enjoyable neighborhood. It is absolutely gratifying.” 

When asked to provide advice, the Chief suggests that students, “Pick a passion - something that you can devote a number of hours to physically but something that is going to excite you to do better for yourself and for whatever you are partnering with.”For example, he recalls a story of when he was a FLPD supervisor on duty and received a distress call from a single mother struggling to provide for her children during the holiday season. In response, Chief Schultz met with the mother to find out more and ended up shopping for her family to provide groceries, a few gifts, decorations for her family. “I quickly realized that there was no way that she was alone. There had to be a number of families that are going through the same thing,” said Schultz. Fourteen years later, FLDP has an official Undercover Santa Toy Drive and Gift Card Drive Program, which Chief Schultz spearheads every year and partners with the Parks and Recreation Department on distribution sites, health services providers, education and food services and a City Commissioner. This past November and December, this program distributed over 3,000 toys and books and thousands of dollars of groceries and gift cards to deserving families in the Fort Lauderdale Metro area. Schultz continues, “So that’s my passion that grew out of my occupation. I found out about a need in the community through one shift at work and every year since then, we’ve built it up to what’s currently in the process of becoming an official 501(c)(3) charity.”

As a proud alum, Chief Schultz is eager to witness EMU’s continued growth, particularly in his field, as well as in education, nursing, and business. “It’s such a  substantial institution and we have a number of alumni from Eastern who work here at the FLPD. I want to continue to help students form a career path from classroom to police work and develop partnerships with the institution.